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Thread: Saber Refit with CFX and RGB and custom chasis

  1. #1

    Default Saber Refit with CFX and RGB and custom chasis

    Hey, I am quite new here and this is my first post, so please be gentle.

    I currently am still in the planning phase of my first lightsaber, mainly due to some issues I will get into later in this post. Ok, this is also a bit incorrect. In actuality, I plan on modifying my first real lightsaber due to budget restraints and because my saber suffers from feature creep and now and am incapable of cutting any of these features to get the damn thing built with the budget I planned on using (kind of know how Chris Roberts feels). But it seems like I am getting ahead of myself, first I need to talk about the saber I will modify and why this is necessary.

    The next part is a bit of backstory and venting about something that annoys me so not really necessary for all to read unless you are interested. (Tldr; at the end of paragraph)

    It is a huge 16 monster which is modelled after a recently released video game created by an undisclosed saber company. I ordered it back in November so I could get my hands on it by Christmas (I live in central Europe). Sadly, when it finally arrived the chassis which held the batteries was damaged and the speaker holder broke off. This might have also damaged the speaker itself (already checked and it is unresponsive and the fine netting on it is completely broken). So my brand new saber, which I was checking on every single day since I ordered it for almost 3 weeks arrived as a glorified stunt-saber. I have contacted the saber company in question 4 times already, but still have to receive any response (first contact happened on the 17th of December literally 2 hours after I first picked up the package).
    Even before receiving the saber I spent most of my day checking out different saber companies, builds and even stumbled upon this forum just because I wanted to know even more about the community that existed for these marvellous pieces of tech. When my saber arrived damaged I also checked out several guides on Youtube and forums so I might find out how to fix it. This spiralled out of control rather quickly and I now find myself almost obsessed with creating my own saber and having spent at the very least 100+ hours doing research, reading, watching videos and creating several different designs of lighsabers on this fine site. It certainly helped that teachers do not have to work during the Christmas holidays and the only thing that could keep me away from my research was spending time with my little boy (8 months) and my girlfriend. What also contributed to my desire to really build a saber myself is that my girlfriend started sowing a few months back and she gifted me the promise of my very own Sith Robe (go black or go home!) for Christmas. I also want to become better with electric stuff now that I have a son of my own since in my book, a good daddy needs to be able to fix stuff around the house by himself. Due to my own father having studied the electrician studied in school he already taught me a bit (and will assist me during the install), but I chose this project to really come into my own.

    Tldr; Teacher from Europe, got a son, want to build a saber partly because I am obsessed with it and because I want to become better at wiring stuff. Also, my first saber purchase arrived broken ☹

    Also, full disclosure, I am ordering these parts from a Stockist of Ultrasabers in Europe due to the transport and import costs burning a hole into my pocket otherwise. They also stock for Plector and seeing as I want a CFX, this suits me just fine. I certainly hope this is not an issue when posting on a forum since stockists (at least the definition I found) is a very close relationship between two companies almost comparable to a franchise. But if it is an issue, I will take this post down asap.

    So, about the saber: I already measured it several times and the hilt should be able to fit a self-build chassis with a 3.7v 3400mAh 18650 Li-Ion battery as power supply. The pommel-part is also supposed to be MHS compatible, but Id rather check than believe everything I find online. Regardless, the inside of the hilt is exactly as wide as the female part of the hilt, so this supported my own measurements.

    What I plan to install in my hilt:
    1x Crystal Focus X
    1x Tri-Cree XP-E2 Copper, RGB (already calculated the resistors)
    1x RGB 18mm AV Switch (already took the thermal tape, holder and heatsink into account)
    1x small black momentary switch
    1x Switchraft 5.5mm/2.1 DC recharge socket (+ killkey)
    1x 28mm WOW 4w Speaker(if available until I order)/1x 28mm True Premium Bass Speakers/or 28mm 2w 8ohm Bass Speaker

    I will also build the Chassis myself with MHS v1 parts: 1 speaker holder, 2 discs style 5, 1x recharge port disc-set, 2x acrylic chassis disc-sets should one be ruined by me, and 1 blank set should I need more for any reason, 4x hex nuts, 1x brass OD tube and 3x 4-40 threads, one of which is a spare.

    Also going to build my own blade with 40'' TW Trans White PolyC. The finished product will probably be 40 or 38 long, since the saber I really want to build, sometime later this year, will be a designated 2h saber and I feel it should make up for the slowness with more reach.

    Furthermore, I want to electro etch (with q-tips and using either a vinegar/salt or water/salt solution) some designs on it using PCB paper. I already have all the required materials at home so I can practice on store-bought aluminium before I can even think about doing it on my hilt. Already found some very informative articles on this forum and a few really cool videos online on this subject. If you are wondering why the q-tip version rather than a proper bath, it is because I feel it might be easier to use this version on a hilt this large (aprox. 14 without the blade holder) and assembled by someone else. But if anyone has some experience with etching prebuild sabers or some advice I would really appreciate it!

    Questions I want to inquire about:
    The first issue is about the above-mentioned electro etching. I am quite sure there are a few people here who have already modified a hilt received by a sabersmith or company and would love some advice. Most articles/posts or videos I found dealt with completely new designs or blank material, so I am wondering if I might be missing something crucial.
    Another issue that I encountered and could not find any answer for is whether the 16mm RGB AV Switch will match the blade colour or not. Ive googled, searched the forums (might have been too stupid) and read the CFX manual twice, certain sections even more often than that. I feel like it might be possible if correctly connected to the accent LED Pads but I seriously could not find the relevant paragraph or section in the manual, or online for that matter, that could give me the answers I was searching for. An especially frustrating moment was when I found a post from a few years back that stated that it was not possible to have them match, but seeing as many companies have this feature as a standard for RGB coloured sabers, I cannot believe that this is still correct.
    Third question is simply: Am I missing something with my build/refit?

    I have posted pretty much my entire list of components which I want to use for my refit, and to put into my very own self designed lightsaber later on. Just having bought a saber and now wanting to upgrade it is way easier to explain to my girlfriend than buying a new one as well. Well, its certainly still a ways off, especially since I first want to have some experience in etching before I disassemble my old(new) saber to work on it and then mount a new system inside.
    But if youve read through most of this, thank you! Certainly, a longer post than I initially anticipated. Somehow I just wanted to share my road up until now with people who undertook similar journeys. Nobody I know seems to understand why I am so thrilled doing what they consider hard and boring research until late at night just to find some answers to questions I have not yet considered. But I think the first time you ignite your very own self-build/modified saber (AND HEAR SOUND!) it will all be worth it. Not to mention that doing the research is also a ton of fun. But yeah, thanks for hearing me out (again) and hopefully you can help me with my issues.

  2. #2


    The CFX has PWM pads on the bottom that you should be able to attach to your RGB switch to color match (The LED connections at least), this would be on page.... 58&59 of the CFX manual. It's normally for things like a crystal chamber LED, but it should work just as well in this case as it gives current to those LED's based on what's being given to the main channels of your Tri-cree. Just be sure that the color die being driven matches the LED. Like say channel 1 is blue, make sure the blue LED on the RGB switch is on PWM pad 1 etc.

    I have tried my hand at saltwater etching, one bit of advice I would give is make sure the power supply you use doesn't have a short detection system where it'll kill the power going through if used (Had this issue myself with a laptop power supply, when I was etching, the voltage died because it detected a 'short' and killed the power). Other than that most the online tutorials I have found have been pretty good on etching, but it's always good to get a few practice rounds in on spare aluminum parts to get your technique down.

    Other than that, you seem to be good to go.

    Edit: Looking back over it, you can also use the accent LED pads and the newer sequencer system on the CFX, but I have yet to mess around with these newer functions, page 73 of the CFX manual.
    Last edited by RavenXp; 01-09-2020 at 03:13 PM.

  3. #3


    Thank you for your reply RavenXp! I've already checked those out and remember reading about that. Only issue was that those were talking about accent led which were described as small lights which can be utilized to "beautify" the hilt. I already assumed that those might play a role in powering the LED part of the switch, but was a bit discouraged by the designated switch wiring. However, I also found one quite recent post on the forums where another new user planned on utilizing those accent-led ports to power his monocolour LED AV switch. Seeing as I was unsure about the terminology and the actual use of these accent lights I just wanted to make sure this would be the way to go. Thanks to you my theory was now confirmed

    To start off I plan on using single-use 9v batteries for the etching process. Just finished cutting my aluminium pieces (only managed to get my hands on one large piece so i had to cut and file them to size) today and I will probably try my hand on applying the print on my pcb-paper to em in the oven tomorrow. Also bought some cylinders for later, to increase the difficulty, should my first few attempts succeed.

  4. #4


    I've used those accent pads to switch on (via a separate power draw circuit) a mini motor for a rotating crystal chamber. They're there mostly for LEDs (the older boards it was simple on/off in the config, the new CFX sequencer is far more customizable) but you can use them for anything that can either be run or activated by a 3.7v 20mA signal.

  5. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by RavenXp View Post
    I've used those accent pads to switch on (via a separate power draw circuit) a mini motor for a rotating crystal chamber. They're there mostly for LEDs (the older boards it was simple on/off in the config, the new CFX sequencer is far more customizable) but you can use them for anything that can either be run or activated by a 3.7v 20mA signal.
    Oooh, a rotating chamber! I was considering this for a future build. Have you posted pics or video of it? I don't remember seeing that. Show us, show us please!

  6. #6


    I never got past the cram fu phase with it, I had it hooked up and tested but had to remove it and redo the hilt without the chamber. It was I believe an etsy crystal chamber I got that was 3D printed and had a helix type rotator. I'll have to see if I still have the link and if it's still active.

    I'll be dammed, still around on shapeways. Let me know and I can dm you the link.
    Last edited by RavenXp; 01-12-2020 at 11:40 PM.

  7. #7


    9V batteries do not put out a lot of current. I recommend a four D-cell battery pack instead (puts out 6V). I have used one of those many times for etching. Works just as good as my old school car battery charger set to 6V at 4 amps. If it etches too aggressively/fast, you can try a two D cell battery pack or less salt in the water.

    As for etching a hilt already built, the Q-Tip method (which I have not tried yet) is probably your best bet. Otherwise you would need to take it completely apart and put a resist on the entire piece to be etched (except of course the actual areas you want etched) so that you can submerge the part in salt water. On a similar note, I recently found out that Plasti-Dip works very well as a resist for intricately shaped parts, You can apply it with arts/crafts paintbrushes and it needs to be put on thick or in 2 coats. After etching, you can easily peel it right off.
    Last edited by ARKM; 01-13-2020 at 02:55 PM.

    From Wikipedia: "Internet Explorer slows down GIFs if the framerate is 20 frames per second or higher and Microsoft reports that Google Chrome and Safari also slow down some GIF animations."

  8. #8


    I actually also have a constant energy source lying around at my parents place. If I am not entirely mistaken it is around 6 - 7v. Still, I found the 9v batteries in a sale, like 10 of em for 2 €, so I thought why not. Plasti-Dip could actually be a viable option by now. Hit a few snags while trying to apply the resist to my metal last week. First of all, the aluminium I bougth seems to be annodized. Which meant I had to remove the entire layer, due to the ink not sticking to it at all. At first I did it via sandpaper, very time intensive, and later with a sander which I managed to borrow from someone. Also considered chemical methods, but just did not get around to buying the drain cleaner with Sodium Hydroxide in it just yet. Still, with the sander it worked out pretty well and wasn't too much of a time sink. Also experimented with several methods to apply the ink...

    First I tried putting the metal with the pcb paper attached in my oven at around 160C and wrapped packing tape around it to make it stick. This did not work out well at all. Yesterday I experimented with using an iron and baking paper (mostly as a layer in between the PCB and the iron as to better distribute the heat as well as not letting the glossy side of the PCB melt onto the iron) and this worked out surprisingly well. The ink fused to the metal in a way where I can actually make out the proper shape of the logo and is dark enough as to actually pass as black. However, I have yet to manage to apply all the ink on the PCB to the metal and no ammount of pressure enabled me to do that. Still, the best results were achieved after I preheated the metal itself before putting the printed on PCB onto the metal. As to why this does not work as I envisioned it would, I've got some working theroies:

    I messed up the printer settings when quality and black only is concerned and some ink particles did not apply to the PCB correctly.

    The melting point of the ink (Dell Laserjetjet c1760nw) is higher than initially expected and it takes more heat than I applied up till now.

    I gave the ink too much time to fuse to the PCB. At the moment, this is the theory I believe might hold true since I printed several logos on the PCB in advance on Friday and only tried applying them starting on Saturday. Most videos and tutorials I used for my research used quite recently printed images for application but I found no indication that this is a necessity. Ok, there might have been some statement about that in articles I've read before, but the recent articles did not mention it. Another indication that this theory might hold true is that when I first printed on my PCB the ink was very easy to smudge while now you can actually touch it without getting your hands dirty. Other factors like dust or dirt which the paper was exposed to by lying around could also play a role. I will try to verify/falsify this theory in the next few days.
    Last edited by Maraud3r; 01-14-2020 at 04:36 PM. Reason: Laserjet and not an Inkjet

  9. #9


    I have never used ink from an inkjet printer as a resist. I didn't even know that was possible. All the tutorials I have read regarding printers used for etching involved toner from laser printers. In the past, I used a laser printer and printed the toner onto thin glossy paper (I used pages ripped from magazines) to use as a resist for etching (Brother name brand printers will not work for this. However as far as I know all other brands will). The toner transfer method has worked pretty well for me but only on cylindrical metal. I have never been able to get it to work well on flat metal. Nowadays, I use vinyl stickers made on my die cutting machine. Those work extremely well on both cylindrical and flat metal.

    When applying toner or a vinyl sticker to a part to be etched, I make sure there is enough toner or sticker material around the design to be etched so that I can overlap the edges of it with some other form of resist. After applying toner or a sticker to the part to be etched, I usually use black vinyl tape (often referred to as electrical tape) as my resist for the rest of the part, having it overlap the toner or sticker. The one time I used Plasti-Dip, I made sure to overlap it over my vinyl stickers as well.

    I hope that helps.

    From Wikipedia: "Internet Explorer slows down GIFs if the framerate is 20 frames per second or higher and Microsoft reports that Google Chrome and Safari also slow down some GIF animations."

  10. #10


    Sorry, messed that up. Was a Laserjet not an Inkjet. Inkjets are not supposed to work. Also thought about the Vinyl method, but I don't know anyone with a Vinyl cutter. For the time being I will try to figure out why the toner won't apply properly and might also try another type of metal just to see if the ink is applied on that. But thanks for your input. This will certainly be something I will want to consider in the future, but if I get too many things for my "project" too soon, my gf might just kill me.
    Last edited by Maraud3r; 01-14-2020 at 04:43 PM.


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